Geography department map sale set for Saturday

There’s a lot to love about map apps. They’ll point you to the nearest shoe store, chart the night sky, deliver driving directions in a celebrity voice and warn you of traffic jams in real time.

old map of California

Detail of an historical map of California.

But for cartography you can touch and hold — historical maps, water and topographical maps and more — check out the geography department map sale this Saturday, Dec. 15.

The closeout is set for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in McCone Hall (ground and first floors). For the first four hours, maps will go for set prices — from around 50 cents to $5, or a bit more for those that are older or particularly beautiful, says Dan Plumlee, manager of the department’s map collections. Starting at 1 p.m., remaining maps will be sold in bulk.

Space, or the lack of it, is a chief reason for the sale, according to Plumlee, for whom the sell-off marks “the end of an era.” While the Earth Science and Map Library, in 50 McCone, retains a large collection of maps that students and faculty access frequently, those tagged for sale, from the geography department collection, are redundant and rarely used, he says. In the classroom, projected images have largely replaced large, unfurled teaching maps; all of the department’s teaching maps have been scanned, for easy access in high-res digital form.

Plumlee, who also organized the department’s last big map sale in 2002, has been culling the collection and pricing maps for weeks in preparation for Saturday’s event.

He notes that the lion’s share of items for sale are topo maps of the western U.S., including Hawaii. “Hikers would love these things,” he says.